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Self Driving Cars hate Parking Meters


In the UCSC article, “Mean streets: Self-driving cars will “cruise” to avoid paying to park” by Jennifer McNulty, an upcoming problem with the emergence of self-driving cars was explained. In the article, it was explained that because self-driving cars had no need for a driver, they can cruise endlessly in cities where parking spots are up to $35+ and hour, such as San Francisco. Instead of having to pay for such an exorbitant price, for the small rate of about 50 cent an hour you can let your car drive endlessly, factoring in average maintenance costs. However, other people will have the same idea as well, they will also let their cars go on auto drive, and as more and more self-driving cars on auto-pilot fill up the streets, the more and more traffic will slow down, down to less than 2 miles per hour as stated in the article. This is also difficult to regulate as there are many exceptions to a general rule of “Don’t let your car auto-drive without someone for 15 minutes or face a fine”, as you say it was fetching groceries from a supermarket or anything else. The researcher of this article, Adam Millard-Ball, used the concepts and strategies of game theory to come to this conclusion.

In basic terms, game theory is the study of optimal strategies players use in interacting with one another, where the happiness of all players depends on everyone’s decisions. For this case, the game consists of not parking and parking, with the payoffs being (low price, slower traffic) and (high price, faster traffic) respectively. With this in mind, it seems obvious that most people would choose the former choice, because if everyone else doesn’t choose it, that person would pay less and face barely slowed traffic, but because everyone will probably choose it, traffic slows to a grinding halt, especially in cities. As a solution to this problem, Millard-Ball suggests adding congestion prices, such as for every mile traveled in the city you have to pay a rate, or charging people for entering a city, though this solution also faces the problem of the public not accepting it and refusing to implement it. Another solution is to add tracking devices to cars, ones that measure things like speed and location, and every what lane someone is in. This also comes with another problem which is invasion of privacy though. As can be seen, this article thoroughly explains what will happen with self driving cars and attempts to answer it with solutions to varying success.


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September 2019